Are you sending holiday greeting cards this year? I am, but not in the traditional sense. Holiday/Christmas cards from friends and relatives are always a bright spot in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Whether it be seeing how much our friends’ kids have grown, seeing relatives from out of state posing happily in dressy attire, or family/friends’ pets wearing Santa hats, I love receiving these cards. As tempted as I am to “return the favor” the cost of stamps is really a dampener in my getting in the holiday spirit. In the four years I’ve been “adulting” or living on my own with my husband though we haven’t actually mailed a holiday card. No, we’re not the Grinch family — really we’re not. In fact, Tom and I truly love the holiday season.
But coupled with the expenses with gifts during the holiday season we DO have a thing about spending time and money on holiday greeting cards. I’m totally aware that I’m in the minority. Hallmark reports Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States with approximately 1.5 billion cards sent every year! Find that hard to believe? Well, according to The U.S. Census Bureau roughly about 2 billion cards will be mailed and delivered during the holiday season, with the heaviest period occurring the week before Christmas.
Before you judge me in my protest of sending a card via the US Postal Service, let me explain my issue. Greeting cards can be expensive, and it takes a lot of time to sign and address each one. At 50 cents a stamp, if I were to send out 150 cards to friends and relatives that would be $75.00. Yep, $75.00 for a card that will end up tossed in a keepsake box and forgotten about OR thrown out. That’s a lot of money for an item that probably is barely read and then tossed in a holiday card holder.
Sure, it’s nice to open a card and realize someone was thoughtful enough to think of you this year. I particularly like the “let me catch you up” newsletters which are super interesting when you haven’t seen someone in a while. I get so many cards each year and didn’t want to seem like a stiff so began my holiday conundrum: how do I send a card without breaking bank to do so?
The answer came to me while at work, checking my email: why can’t we accomplish the same thing with an emailed holiday greeting? Service providers like Shutterfly offer multiple holiday templates that you can personalize with images, videos, and messages that will reflect your business or organization. If it’s appropriate, you can also link to photo albums that are hosted on sites like Flickr or the Kodak Gallery. I love seeing photos online. In fact, I’m more likely to keep digital photos than I am hard copies.
Finally, e-cards don’t kill trees. I’m not an avid environmentalist, but I do think it makes very little sense to use a natural resource for a card that has limited impact. Certainly, there are cards made from recycled products, but how many people choose to use them?
There are, of course, a few exceptions to my “no holiday card” sentiments, and that’s people who have not yet embraced technology. For example, I could never send an e-card to my Father-in-law, Otto, because he doesn’t have and is adamantly against getting email address. So, of course, he’ll be getting our card printed out on Kodak picture paper and handed to him by us this year.
I know what you’re thinking, sounds good but how do I do this? As mentioned above there are plenty of service providers online that could provide you with templates to use that will fit your own individual style for you and your family. I, however, took a very basic route:
Beginning with a blank Microsoft Word 2003 document, I carefully crafted a “Year In Review” style Christmas card. It was simply designed and to the point. I chose TWO of my favorite pictures from the year and added each of our ‘Top Moments of the Year’. The pictures I picked were of Draco and of us at our mutual Top Moment of the Year (which was attending a friend’s wedding). Then I broke it down into three sections: Draco’s, Tom’s and Myself’s top three moments of the year.
I’m one to keep things short, sweet, and to the point, no need to tell you ALL the details of my entire year it’s not necessary and it’s time consuming. The top three helps give friends and relatives a glimpse into your life without giving away TMI.
Next, I created a Facebook status explaining to friends and family that I’d like to e-mail them our holiday card from this point forward. Then, I emailed each person our card and explained to them in the body of the email that they can print out the card from the comfort of their home, which won’t cost them anything but ink which they already have on their computer. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!
Ultimately every family is different and what I did this year and every year going forward is ultimately what is best and most cost-efficient for my family. I will close this post with an open question to my readers: What do you think of Christmas Cards? Do you have plans to send one this year, either through regular mail or email?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below, I LOVE hearing from you!
Love you. Mean it.